For more than thirty years Ted Polhemus has explored and celebrated the extraordinary ways that popular culture opens a window onto a broader understanding of the world we live in. Never judgemental, never the ‘style guru’ some have erroneously labelled him, he scrupulously avoids distinguishing between the good, the bad and the ugly - while always thrilled by the creativity of all those ‘real people’ who, decade after decade, have given constant impetus to music, style, design, dance and so many of the things which made and make our age that unique period in human history when Culture went pop! and became truly democratic.
Ted Polhemus has worked as special events coordinator of the ICA (London), the external curator of the ‘Streetstyle’ exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum (London), advisor to the ‘Style Surfing’ exhibition at the Karyn Lovegrove Gallery (Melbourne) and a contributor to the ‘Taste’ exhibition at the Bonnefanten Museum (Maastricht). He has lectured and been a guest on TV and radio in the UK, USA, Italy, Netherlands, Germany, France, Belgium, Sweden, Norway, Turkey, Austria, Brazil, Argentina, Australia, South Korea and Japan. His streetstyle photography has been exhibited at The Photographers Gallery (London) and is available through the PYMCA photo library. As well as a writer and photographer he is also a consultant in advertising, marketing and fashion.
Some books written or edited by Ted Polhemus:
The Body as a Medium of Expression (co-editor + author of ‘Social Bodies’ essay), Penguin, London, 1975.
Social Aspects of the Human Body: A Reader of Key Texts (editor), Penguin, London, 1978.
Fashion & Anti-fashion: an anthropology of clothing & adornment (co-author), Thames & Hudson, London, 1978.
Popstyles (co-author), Vermilion, London, 1984.
Bodystyles, (for C4 TV series), Leonard Books, London, 1988.
Streetstyle, Thames & Hudson, London, 1994
Style Surfing: what to wear in the 3rd millennium, Thames & Hudson, London, 1996.
The Customized Body (author of text), Serpent's Tail, London, 1996.
Body Art: The Total Guide To Body Decoration [children's book, author of text], Element Books, Dorset, UK, 1998.
Diesel: World Wide Wear, Thames & Hudson, London, 1998.
Hot Bodies Cool Styles: New Techniques in Self-Adornment, Thames & Hudson, London, 2004.
La Rivolta Dello Stile (co-author), Alet, Padova, 2009.
Unordinary People (author of main text), PYMCA, London, 2009.
If you've ever been curious about how Chloë Sevigny comes up with some of her more inspired looks check out Streetstyleby Ted Polhemus - ‘I often consult it for tips before I go out. It's my sartorial bible’. - in The New York Times Style Magazine
Some contributions by Ted Polhemus to other works:
‘The Clothing of Culture’ in Conceptual Clothing(Fran Cottell & Marian Schoettle eds.), Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, UK, 1986.
‘Dance, Gender and Culture’ in Dance, Gender and Culture (Helen Thomas ed.)The Macmillan Press, London, 1993.
‘Sampling & Mixing’ in Moda: Regole E Rappresentazion(Giulia Ceriani & Roberto grandi eds.) FrancoAngeli, Milan, 1995.
‘In the Supermarket of Style‘ in The Clubcultures Reader: Readings in Popular Cultural Studies, Blackwell Publishers, Oxford, 1997.
‘Beyond Fashion’ in The Style Engine (Giannino Malossi ed.), Pitti Immagine/The Monacelli Press, NY, 1998.
‘The Art of the Motorcycle: Outlaws, Animals & Sex Machines’ in The Art of the Motorcycle, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York, 1998.
‘The Customized World’ in The Art of the Harley, Barbican Art Gallery/Booth-Clibborn Editions, London, 1998.
‘Holiday Snaps from the Neverneverlands’ in RawSkin: Contemporary Dutch Fashion Photography (Pauline Terreehorst ed.), Nederlands Photo Instituut, Rotterdam, 1998.
‘An Imagined Italy’ in Volaré: The Icon of Italy in Global Pop Culture (Giannino Malossi ed.), Pitti Immagine/The Monacelli Press, NY,1999.
‘Smaak: Stijlsurfen’ in Smaak: Mensen, Media, Trends, Bonnefanten Museum, Maastricht, NL, 1999.
‘Il pianeta giovane’ in La Moda Nel Consumo Giovanile: strategie & immaginai de fine millenio (Alessandro Giancola ed.) FrancoAngeli, Milan, 1999.
‘The Invisible Man’ in Material Man (Giannino Malossi ed.), Pitti Immagine/Harry N. Abrams, NY, 2000.
‘Ted Polhemus nel buco nero della moda’ in Communifashion: Sulla Moda, della comunicazione (Alberto Abruzzese & Nello Barile eds.) Luca Sossels Editore, Roma, 2001.
‘Introduction’ to Gavin Watson’s Skins (photographs), Independent Music Press, London, 2001.
‘La Moda come furto’ in Discipline Della Moda: L’etica dell’ apparenza (Bernardo Valli, Benedetta Barzini and Patrizia Calefato eds.) Licuari Editore, Napoli, Italy, 2003.
‘Neo-Primitieve Lichamen’ in Neo, Centraal Museum, Utrecht, NL, 2003.
‘Style Surfing’ in Enciclopedia della Moda Treccani, Treccani, Rome, 2004.
‘Streetstyles’ in The Encyclopedia of Clothing & Fashion (Valerie Steele ed.), Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 2005.
‘The Post-modern Designer’ in Hussein Chalayan, NAI Publishers/Groninger Museum, Rotterdam/Groninger, NL 2005.
‘The Ornamented Ape’ in Access To Accessory (Victor Durschei & Leyla Belkaid Neri eds.), Geneva University of Design, Geneva, 2005.
‘What to Wear in the Global Village?’ in Global Fashion Local Tradition: On the Globalisation of Fashion (Jan Brand & José Tunissen eds.) Uitgererij Terra Lannoo BV, Belgium, 2005.
‘The Life and Times of the Electric Guitar’ in Born to Rock, Big Time TV/The National Museum of Ireland, London/Dublin, 2006.
‘From Fashion to Style: the presentation of self in the 21st century’ for Enciclopedia Italiana, Rome, 2008.
Ted Polhemus has an honorary doctorate of arts from Southampton Solent University
Having grown up near the sea in Neptune, New Jersey, Ted Polhemus moved from London to Hastings on the South-east coast of England in 2001.